You’re now in process of creating your game. Did you make something that could be used again? Is it something that is not easy to build and can be useful for others? That’s great! Sell it on the Unity Asset Store!
Before we start
There are at least two kinds of publishers on the Asset Store. The ones that belong to the first type are people who are creating their content solely for the purpose of selling it. Those people are mostly focused on quality, documentation and support. The second group are game companies that are building assets for internal use but then eventually they are publishing them to the wider audience. Their assets are made for specific games but sometimes they can be reused if the quality is good enough.
It’s more difficult to make money out of artistic assets (models, music, textures) than of script and editor extensions. I don’t know the exact numbers but this topic was frequently discussed on the publishers’ groups. The reason why is that artistic assets, no matter how good they are, are difficult to re-use. Sure, there are environment packs and character packs, but most of the times there will be something missing, something that you’d like to see in your game as a game creator. Mixing multiple models and textures together rarely looks good enough, so many developers decides to hire 3D modelers and graphics designers on their own.
This issue does not affect scripts and editor extensions that much. Scripts can be very flexible and it only depends on good design and amount of time spent on working on it.
How to create a successful script
Many people were asking me if working solely as Asset Store publisher is profitable. It really depends on the products that you’ll be releasing. Some products will be more successful than others. Success is something that may be difficult to measure. For me a successful product is something that I did in relatively small amount of time, it does what it is meant to do, it sells and does not require too much maintenance or support. Some of the best unity assets are those that act as features that the Unity editor itself should include natively.
One example of a successful product is Energy Bar Toolkit – a script for health bars set up of different kind. It does what it is meant to do and it does it well. The good thing about EBT is that for most of my clients this asset offers more than enough. An example of an asset that is not very successful is Mad Mesh Combiner. The idea was quite good, because many Unity developers were struggling with the frame rates on mobile devices due to the big number of draw calls. Unfortunately, I did not predict how much time it would require to make it work properly in most cases. Also, my clients didn’t understand the limitations and many of them were blaming me after purchasing the asset instead of reading through the instructions first.
Generally speaking, think of creating assets that have a clear definition of finished. At least for starters, because it’s easier to become a publisher if you can release more than one product in a short period of time.
Uploading your first asset
So you’ve decided to become a publisher. Brace yourself, there’s a lot to read if you want to handle it all. The best resource is an official guide to how sell assets. Please make sure to read all the listed documents. Read and remember the Submission Guidelines – making it right will surely increase your chance of getting approved.
Make sure that your asset has a decent documentation. For the first version you can do a PDF file generated out of Libre Office document, but as your asset will grow the documentation may become bigger and less coherent. Consider building a HTML documentation with Jekyll. Jekyll is like wiki, but it generates static html files that can be sent to any http server or zipped into a file and distributed along with your asset.
Prepare a decent presentation, but do not spend too much time on it – you can easily append it later! YouTube video is a must-have, having a WebGL demo will help too. Don’t worry too much about the icon and product page background. It’s not as important as you may think.
Do not upload your assets using the latest Unity version available – users of older Unity versions won’t be able to use them. Usually only a newly created games use the newest Unity version. After that, their creators stick to that particular version until the next game. If there’s a significant change between Unity versions that you cannot ignore, you’re allowed to upload your asset from multiple Unity versions. Thanks to this your customer will receive the content that will closely match his setup.
Don’t worry if you get declined for the first few times. Unity guys are very friendly and helpful with getting your asset right. Usually it’s a matter of something that you’ve missed while preparing it for the upload.
Your asset is now online!
After getting approved, set up a forum thread about your asset. It’s a method of marking your presence. Many of your clients will also use it to get the support. It’s a preferred way of providing support, because when someone will search for issue that someone else had, most likely he or she will find one of your answers.
Make sure to reply to all of the email support requests. Even if you don’t know the answer or you’re not planning to add a requested feature the worst thing you can ever do is to ignore your client.
How would you know if a person that is writing to you is your client? You can ask them anytime for order no. (it’s on the invoice). On your publisher panel you can find a verification tool. If the Order No. is OK, you see your asset name, purchase date and for what price it has been purchased.
You can give away up to 12 free copies of your asset a year. Make use of that! I did it when I had released my initial version and I needed some feedback. I gave few away to some people on the forums and I’ve got a great feedback that helped me to improve my tool before the next release.
As I said before, it’s difficult to measure a success. Think of releasing at least 3 assets. When you do, you will know enough to evaluate which one is a better investment.
Subscribe to Unity Blog. Stay up to date with the latest features. Test your assets on beta versions before releasing them. You can sometimes find yourself in a situation that new Unity version will break your code. This is your best chance to submit a bug report and get it fixed before it goes public. Trust me, it can save you from a lot of trouble.
If you’re already a publisher or if you want to become one after reading this article, please share your thoughts in the comments!